Saturday, March 18, 2017

DRAMA ROUNDUP: 'The Fosters,' 'The 100,' 'Designated Survivor' and 'Chicago Med' (March 12-16)

Some brief reviews for various dramas from March 12-16:

Freeform's The Fosters - Episode 4.16 "The Long Haul"
The CW's The 100 - Episode 4.06 "We Will Rise"
ABC's Designated Survivor - Episode 1.12 "The End of the Beginning"
NBC's Chicago Med - Episode 2.17 "Monday Mourning"

Due to the demands of Peak TV, it is becoming more and more difficult for this website to devote the time to full length episodic reviews. And yet, there are still thoughts to be had about the ongoing adventures on a number of series. So I thought it would be good to still write down a couple of brief thoughts about each episode on a weekly basis. Of course, you can still probably expect full reviews for premieres and finales. If the networks should make screeners available, those episodes would get detailed analysis as well. But for now, this will be the way to continue to provide content for these shows while also being a lighter workload for me.

The Fosters - "The Long Haul"
Sharon and Will return to the Adams Foster home with news that they are engaged. While the family happily prepares for the wedding ceremony, Stef learns that her mom is having second thoughts about getting married. In an effort to come clean with Jesus, Emma writes him a letter but learns he is hiding a secret of his own. Jude is teased at school when Lena organizes an LGBTQ-friendly sex ed class for students. Written by Megan Lynn & Wade Solomon and directed by Bradley Bredeweg

It's always nice to see Annie Potts back on this show. She just adds a nice dynamic to the family as Stef's mom. It's fascinating to see her freak out about getting married to Will but also have it come from a clear emotional place. It's also nice to see her get caught up in Emma and Jesus' situation as well. She would seem to be the last person who should be in on that secret because she would likely let it out to the wrong person. But it's nice to see her be responsible and respectable. It's great that she isn't defined solely as the over-the-top mom who comes in for a brief visit to bring some fun and chaos to the family. Plus, that ending is really heartfelt. Of course, it's been a long time since Lena and Stef's divorce was mentioned. I had forgotten about that. It's crazy to think that everything that has happened has only been in a year too. That's just ridiculous. But their second wedding is pretty special. And lastly, the LGBTQ sex ed story is really unique to this show. It's respectful of the subject matter while also getting into the difficulties it has for Lena and Jude. Plus, it's so wonderful that Jude doesn't have sex yet. That seemed like the direction the show has been going in all season long and he would immediately regret it. But it's great to see him and Noah actually talk about things. That makes their relationship seem more real and genuine. B

The 100 - "We Will Rise"
Clarke and Roan must work together in hostile territory in order to deliver an invaluable asset to Abby and her team. Written by Charmaine DeGrate and directed by Dean White

Everyone is now putting their full attention on the nightblood cure being able to save everyone from the pending radiation. It basically cuts away all of the agonizing choices Clarke had to make over the last few episodes regarding the Ark and who would survive inside. That's a little weird considering the focus they had previously. However, this episode is concise and to the point. Clarke, Bellamy and Roan are a unique character pairing. Their adventure to deliver fuel to Raven is a bit predictable at times. But it's exciting as well. It reinforces just how dangerous and vicious this world can be. Plus, it highlights how bad moments always get worse on this show. They lose one of the barrels of fuel. That moment of devastation comes right after Raven finally figured out how to land the rocket she discovered. That's a crushing defeat - though I assume everyone will be able to find a solution eventually. Meanwhile, it's fascinating to see Jaha and Kane back at camp trying to maintain order as Octavia and everyone else seeks vengeance against Ilian. It shows that Skaikru may not be so different from the rest of the grounders after all. They can still have the same mentality about vengeance and death while their leaders strive for something more. B

Designated Survivor - "The End of the Beginning"
Circles must tighten as a new discovery within the conspiracy emerges. Tension rises between Aaron and Emily as suspicions loom in the White Houses. A new lead places Agent Wells closer than before to the truth. Written by David Guggenheim and directed by Mike Listo

It only took half the season but President Kirkman and Agent Wells are finally together openly sharing information. It's about damn time. It was inevitable that the two of them sharing notes would bring new depth and excitement to the conspiracy. But more important than that, this hour really does a nice job balancing all of the themes the show wants to address. It's an aspirational show about politics as well as a conspiracy action thriller revolving around the deaths of thousands. Those two don't always go together well and the show has struggled to find itself this season. This hour really is pivotal. Hopefully, it sets up the next half of the season as more consistently great. Of course, it works because death and the cost of power hang over the proceedings. It is genuinely thrilling and shocking to see both Peter and his wife killed in this hour. Sure, it delays providing answers to the larger questions until later this season. But it's an effective plot beat as well. Just like Tom wanting to get back to work as soon as possible but also having to face the reality that he can no longer conduct business the same as always. Of course, it still seems likely that Aaron being in on the conspiracy is just one big red herring. It's gotten too much focus as of late to be true. But if someone is in on it within the administration, then who could it be? Or does someone personal have to be in on it? Mariana Klaveno has been good enough as the face of evil. B+

Chicago Med - "Monday Mourning"
Dr. Choi and Dr. Halstead face off over how to treat a patient with stroke symptoms while Dr. Manning treats a young boy who fell in the river and watches the family turmoil unfold. Dr. Rhodes examines the man who saved Dr. Manning's patient and emphasizes the importance of learning from your mistakes to Dr. Reese. Written by Jeff Drayer, Danny Weiss & Paul R. Puri and directed by Fred Berner

Dr. Wheeler wasn't an important or interesting character. In fact, he was pretty tertiary. He largely just popped up to give an extra set of hands on whatever case the main characters were working on. He was never the one in charge of a story. Of course, it also seemed like there was something going on with him. The show wasn't being subtle about that at all. So, it's not surprising that he commits suicide at the top of this episode. He didn't really have important relationships with any of the main characters. But it is still fascinating to see how everyone reacts to this tragedy. Some plot beats were expected - like Sarah beating herself up for not helping him when he asked for it. Some were overwrought - like Choi becoming way too focused on the job which almost killed a patient. But the best moments came from the most unexpected characters. The simple beats of reaction that Natalie, Sharon and Charles have at the end of the episode are pretty devastating. They are random but very effective in showing just how they are all collectively in mourning despite not knowing the guy very well. Elsewhere, it's also not surprising that April and Tate break up. And yet, it happens for very mature reasons as well following the miscarriage and the two of them simply not being in sync anymore. B